Leonie Jansen: “Love and sadness mingled with us”

The fact that after the age of 60 you can still experience warm love that makes you so happy is illustrated by the story of Leonie Jansen (67) and Jeroen Kramer (66). The singer / director and TV presenter are very happy with each other. But they share a great grief: She lost her husband Onno Krijn at the beginning of 2015, and his wife Ilse Iseger at the end of 2017. They have been in a relationship for four years now, but have known each other for half a lifetime.

Leon: “It started with the purchase of a work of art by Ilse. It hung at the Chaffee Theater in Amsterdam, where the KRO Uit de kunst was recorded in the late 1980s, which I performed. The whole team wanted it for a triptych and after the last broadcast everyone said, ‘Will you call her ya? Leoni?” I did and quoted the price, which was very reasonable. ‘Sold out!’ I screamed, and then everyone got mad at me. Still hanging here in the house.

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Jeroen: “We ran into each other on your next show Rotonde, where you did a cover of John Lennon with Frank Grothoff. When I then started doing the children’s pop music program, Het Hart Bonkt, she asked me to join the band in which I also sang.

Leon: “This band was led by Ono and the decor, the huge heart, was done by Elsie.” There are still videos of it on YouTube. Special to watch together. We became friends through that bond. We came on each other’s birthdays.

Jeroen, Drug: “And Funerals.”

Leon: In the summer of 2014, it was revealed that Ono had colon cancer. And after seven months he died.

Jeroen: Surprisingly, Elsie got the same diagnosis around that time, so the two became colon cancer mates. She recovered, but Ono’s death was very confrontational. You understand: this could have happened to us too. Two years later, Else was diagnosed with acute leukemia, with a 10 percent chance of survival. You were one of the few women I really considered a friend, and not so much a friend. So I called you the same day with the bad news. And I said, I will never forget: “You have to live so much in the moment and try to discover the beautiful moments, despite all the shit!” I held on to this big, through everything: chemotherapy, stem cell transplants, hope and despair, when nothing worked.

Leon: Elsie’s illness also lasted for seven months, very strange. During that time I had a lot of communication with both of you.

Jeroen: ‘I was an expert with experience, and it felt good. I also called you right away when Ilse was put to sleep with palliative anesthesia on Boxing Day. I cry, although I don’t remember. It was such a mess of feelings.

Leon: I was having Christmas dinner, but I got to you as soon as I could. Then she asked me to sing at the funeral.

Jeroen: “Elsie was still in a coma and we sat together in my office looking for ropes and keys. It was strange, but it was also so relaxing to be caught up in the music.

Did Leonie’s experience with grief help you a lot?

Jeroen: Yes, and I still do. It is useful to share this experience. Although after Ilse’s death I was glad to have fun and distraction. One of the first things we did together was a long walk with my daughter, Sophie.

Leon: “It wasn’t long before we did everything together: a lot of walks, going to the movies, a concert…”

Jeroen: “I told you I really liked everything, but I wasn’t ready for a relationship yet. Then she exclaims, “Me too, we’re just friends!”

Leon: We used to kiss every now and then just for fun. It was too early, especially for you.

Jeroen: “Elsie died four or five months ago. But at some point I thought: Suppose I get a new girlfriend, then I want her to be smart and a little athletic, with a sense of humor and a creative mind. Hey, wait a minute, there’s a woman like that right here next to me I also told you, “For something that isn’t called a relationship, this is starting to look suspiciously like a relationship.” Then we went for it.

Sadness and all?

Leon: Yeah, that was a bit of a parallel. Once you were on the track to falling in love and then, floundering, you were on the track to mourning. I still remember the first time we went public as a couple, at a big Roger Waters concert, ex-Pink Floyd guitarist. We stood there so much in love and suddenly the song “Wish You Were Here” starts. Immediately we both started crying for our dead partners, in each other’s arms.

Jeroen: “We cannot pass by a church or a temple on a holiday without lighting a candle or an incense stick for them.”

Leon: Then we walk hand in hand again.

Meanwhile, this new partner is a completely different individual. Isn’t that also confrontational?

Leon: Of course. At first I didn’t dare to compare out loud. If I liked something better than Onno or Jeroen, I had the feeling I was losing weight to the other. While these differences are just there. For example, I was very intertwined with Onno musically. Jeroen and I also do things together, but not so intensely. Onno, on the other hand, kept to himself and liked that Jeroen was always ready to go to a place where there were a lot of people. fine, right? To Jeroen: “Do you also have these kinds of things?” Oh yeah, Elsie can spin farther than me, haha!

Jeroen, cautioned: “She was very athletic indeed.”

Leon: I am, but I have asthma and emphysema, so I don’t go up a mountain so easily. Yes Geron, you have a cat in a poke!

Jeroen: ‘No, I just have to get used to the fact that you don’t always spin in front of me. While you are very assertive.

Leon: “You also love that I often kick your ass.”

Jeroen: It helps me a lot, just like your advice, your network. And don’t forget your studio. The fact that I’ll be releasing a new album soon and touring small theaters has a lot to do with you. I can sometimes doubt whether I should start something, but you’re always like: No bullshit, go! With a new partner, you may also have friction at unexpected points.

Jeroen: “It’s true, although on other points things run unexpectedly smoothly. Ilse, for example, was bad at arguing. She tended not to say anything and at some point she showed up. Leonie is more likely to spot a problem.” Impending and addressing it… I’ve gotten better at that too, by the way.

Leonie, delighted: “Yes, Puff!” Then she exclaims: “Enough now, I want it different!”

Jeroen: “I think sometimes you’re too involved in the coaching role. Last week I was chopping cauliflower and I said, ‘I’d do it like this.’ I didn’t like it at all. But you think sometimes I’m too grumpy and too negative.

Leon: You can sometimes judge others’ performances too harshly, while as a director I understand better how much effort it takes to pull off such a performance. But the good thing is we can talk about all of these things.

Jeroen: “We also regularly do something we call a ‘two-way conversation.’ Then one is allowed to bleed uninterrupted for fifteen minutes and then the other. Then we talk about it. A perfect way to clean your doorstep.”

Leonie, last season she directed Jeroen in De Prins van Oranje. How was that?

Leon: Oh yeah, that was fun! I’m used to directing, but Jeroen usually performed solo and was used to going his own way. So, if I had an idea and said, “Now you have to walk over there, ask me why.”

Jeroen: I thought: Shouldn’t I get it too? I have already written most of the piece.

Leonie: Believe me, I said, because at a moment like this you have to give up. Although I also didn’t want to break the youth that makes you so interesting. In the end it turned out to be a great success.

What new things have you discovered together?

Leon: “The first thing that comes to mind is our new composite family, with Jeroen’s daughter and son and son. It’s another form of completion. The kids also enjoy it immensely, even doing things with each other separately.”

Jeroen: I’ve discovered walking. Too long and consecutive days. Also because of you, I paid more attention to music, started drinking less, and lost ten kilos.

Leon: “It’s also not easy to combine being overweight and ambitious.”

Jeroen: “That’s the difference: you always have a plan and I like messing around more and then I’ll see.” With a chuckle, he quotes a line from his song: “Those who always follow a point on the horizon sometimes miss out on the best.”

Leon: Well, I don’t feel that way. But ambition also brings turmoil, that’s right. Luckily, I’m much better at anything than I used to be, so I’m learning from you on that one.

Does sadness go away?

Jeroen: “It’s not like that on the front anymore. But sometimes it is and that’s okay. We also have a song in our set dedicated to our deceased partner.

Leon: “Someone once said, ‘Sadness is love that has no country,’ but they can live on in those songs. I’m especially grateful. I got first prize with Onno, just like you with Ilse, and then we can now do a reboot.” Delightful together, isn’t it incredible? Perhaps they can be compared to children. You can love your first child immeasurably, and then when you have a second child, you will be surprised by their love just as much. Your heart is bigger than you think.

About Leonie and Jeroen

Leonie Jansen She started her career in theatre. In the late 1970s, she was performing as a jazz singer. She moved to radio and television and presented a large number of programmes, mainly for children (including Het Jeugdjournaal) and on culture (Uit de kunst, Geen Cte Hoog, Jansen & Co). Since the 1990s, she has again focused on music and singing. She has also directed many (theatrical) performances and concerts. Last year, I reached the last place in The Voice Senior. Starting in October, she will be touring with Leonie Jansen in concert.

Jeroen Kramer He presented Het Klokhuis for eleven years from 1990. He then recorded several commercials, company videos and audiobooks as a voice-over. For many years he was a correspondent for Het Sinterklaasjournaal and Sinterklaas arrival. He also acts this fall in a reprise of a children’s stage performance of De Prins van Oranje. He is also a singer and songwriter. His new album is called Tuuk. He will be touring this fall.

This dual interview was previously published in the print edition of Nouveau (c) Nouveau / DPG Media 2022.

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